Cardiff City 2 Blackpool 0. Match Report

Last updated : 30 October 2008 By Michael Morris
Cardiff City delivered a 1-2-3 ... ... that's one ugly show, two beautiful goals and three very welcome points.

That apart, that's really not that much to write home apart from a subdued but very patient and chilled Ninian Park crowd of 17,570 (the Seasiders barely supplying the odd 70 of that number) on a night where temperatures were little above freezing and games in the Midlands fell foul to heavy snow in October. We had all bar given hope of seeing a goals, let alone a victory, until Peter Whittingham and Ross McCormack both popped up inside the final 10 minutes, both goals crackers in their own right.

Until that happened, the game had stalemate written all over it which was, arguably, the most predictable outcome anyway with City having more drawn games than any Championship side and a record, before tonight, of following every league win with a draw. Blackpool, meantime, came to South Wales enjoying a 7 games unbeaten run but with 5 of them being draws.

One of those draws, of course, was against City who were kicked in the teeth by The Tangerine's 94th minute last kick equaliser at Bloomfield Road at the start of the month so at least their minimalist support got to know how that felt, good enough too. It's unusual, if not a first, to have played both league games against any opponent by the 14th game of the season but a quirk of the fixture list saw all Championship clubs playing a reversal of games played just 24 days earlier.

Cardiff went into the day with their frail squad (in numbers terms) having injury worries over 5 key players after that Forest encounter in the shape of Ledley, McPhail, Kennedy, Bothroyd and Purse all picked up knocks at the City Ground, and Jones will wait until early afternoon to select. In the event, only Mark Kennedy did not pull through which saw DJ call up Miguel Comminges to left back - a role where he's often deployed but barely ever looks the part. City were therefore Heaton; McNaughton-Purse-Johnson-Comminges; Parry-Rae-McPhail-Ledley; McCormack-Bothroyd: Subs were Enckleman-Blake-Gypes-Johnson(Eddie)-Whittingham.

Blackpool are now 14th, still better than many predicted for their fate this term, and were able to name an unchanged side after coming back twice from behind to draw at home with Crystal Palace at the weekend. Their side read - Rachubka; Coid-Evatt-Edwards-Barker; Southern-Vaughan- Taylor-Fletcher -Jorgensen; Gow-Burgess.

City won a corner in the opening minute - the first of many where no danger came from it - but Blackpool had the brighter start although Johnson and Purse snubbed any danger. Around the 10 minute mark, City finally showed some signs of life, a strong run by Gavin Rae followed by a 30 yard skimming shot that Rachubka saved comfortably. It was Rae's sole notable contribution of the night. Even by the uncomfortable number of occasions when our central midfield go missing, tonight was a special effort. McPhail fairly anonymous and Rae so invisible that he deserved membership of the Magic Circle.

City, though, continued to make openings with Paul Parry continuing his rediscovered good form, two chances fell for Jay Bothroyd but strong Blackpool defending saw bodies thrown in the way of his goalbound efforts. Not sure where they got those bodies from but they shouldn't be allowed to do that.

The rest of the half was poor to say the least. Until a couple of minutes from half-time, City didn't give Rachubka any work and the crowd any reason to unwrap their arms fighting off the cold. McCormack just missed an early Ledley pass, Ledley himself blazed over twice with unconvincing efforts from distance but Blackpool had the best moment as Taylor-Fletcher beat a couple or challenges too easily before blasting at goal, Heaton doing well to parry a stinging effort as far back as the initial shot came from. Purse got himself booked but McCormack provided the one quality moment as he skipped into the area, delightfully jinked the final defender, his angled shot was blocked by Rachubka and his clever delayed pass across the box was narrowly missed by a couple of blue shirts.

Half-time: CITY 0 BLACKPOOL 0

Cardiff started the 2nd half with wayward shots and wayward crosses. It prompted me to send a text to a few mates saying, "Get Comminges off, drop Ledley back, put Whitts on and pray our central midfield do something!". Did Dave Jones intercept it? Just a couple of minutes later, making a very early change with just 54 minutes gone, off came Miguel, back came Joe and on came Peter. In truth, it wasn't a difficult change to see - there was no partnership between Comminges and Ledley, the latter too dropping deep for the bal and to help. Blackpool were also picking out the poor positioning of Comminges and drilling balls into space beyond him aiming to pick up an opportunity. Comminges is a good squad addition but I don't rate him as a left back at all.

Was it really any surprise that, change made, City now started getting some momentum and more width? It was almost exclusively to the left as Joe and Whitts linked well and McPhail was feeding them but it had the effect of pushing the visitors back. Whitts had three quick efforts, the first bringing a scrambling save from the keeper as City finally made chances but were undone by poor shooting. Parry finding the City fans in the Grange from the Grandstand side, Bothroyd finding Blackpool fans from the Bob Bank side but that was bettered by his delightful turn in the box and shot that almost smashed the clock on the Grange End roof.

Blackpool weathered the relative storm - even if it was little more than a light flurry - and hope was passing fast. I was starting to fear whether the visitors would nick it as they appeared to fancy their chances on the break, Heaton having to block a shot by Welshman David Vaughan was worrying but not as worrying as Dave Jones bringing on Eddie Johnson for the final 12 minutes for Paul Parry. In It's A Knockout terms, that's akin to playing the Joker. Johnson soon annoyed but not just failing to run about but by not putting in any meaningful challenge as he closed down play - he could be forgiven a touch more for his many deficiencies if he at least put in a reasonable shift and 110% effort but he falls short on that criteria too.

Into the final 10 and a worrying moment as Darren Purse quickly conceded a couple of free-kicks, the second of which was the type that often earns yellow cards and would have meant red in his case. Purse himself looked worried, flinging his arms in the air, then on his head and running away quick but the ref let it go but then, without any anticipation, came relief and celebration.

City broke down the left, again, the ball fed into the box sent Bothroyd wide but he was magnificent running away from goal then turning tight and chipping a superb ball into the centre of the box that saw the unlikely source of PETER WHITTINGHAM get there to divert a low header past the helpless keeper. Credit both players, Jay showed superb touches all night (only his shooting let him down) while Whitts showed intelligence and great running himself to be pop up in the position that he did. I can only recall him scoring once with his head before and that was a touch on the line against Barnsley a couple of seasons ago.

It was virtually the same time, 7 minutes to go, that City took the lead at Blackpool but thoughts The Tangerines could have the last say again evaporated as Cardiff put it beyond doubt just two minutes later. McCormack went on a mazy charge and felled on the edge of the box to the left. Whitts and McCormack lined it up but McCORMACK took it and his execution was sublime clearing the wall and tucking the ball inside the near post with Rachubka fumbling for it like a teenager trying his first experience.

Ninian erupted and celebrated like it had been a classic game but we were simply relieved and joyous although a good number felt it safe to beat the cold and traffic and get away early.

At Forest and again tonight, City didn't play well but found a way to win on each occasion and kept it tight at the back. In a division that includes far too many similar teams, perhaps this, along with strong work ethic is what places us ahead of the rest at present. As much as I love City and am enjoying our lofty position, it's hard to think of a more unspectacular third place side. I guess we'll hear the line trotted out again that the side are better than this and finding their form but as we're now a third of the way into the season, is it likely to infinitely improve over this performance-wise?

What is, perhaps, interesting is that all of City's 6 wins this season to date have been against clubs in the current bottom 11 including 4 against the current bottom 5. Perhaps, to prove their credentials more, they need to turn over one of the leading sides - what better opportunity than this weekend in a live Saturday evening Sky game when new leaders Wolves come visiting.

Report from FootyMad

Late strikes from Peter Whittingham and Ross McCormack gave Cardiff City q 2-0 victory over a battling Blackpool.

The Bluebirds were forced to make one change with Miguel Comminges coming in for the injured Mark Kennedy.

Gavin Rae moved through the middle in the tenth minute but his low shot was easily gathered by Blackpool keeper Paul Rachubka.

The Bluebirds were having the better of the opening exchanges and were passing the ball around with speed. Jay Bothroyd was in the thick of the action, but too many times the final ball let them down.

A burst by Joe Ledley almost set up McCormack but the Scot was inches away from sliding the cross home.

Blackpool tried to hit City on the break, but were forced to shoot from distance and rarely troubled home keeper Tom Heaton.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher did much better on the half hour with a rasping shot that Heaton could only push away.

Three minutes before the break Bothroyd sent McCormack scurrying in on goal, but the visiting defence were back in numbers to clear the danger.

Blackpool began the second half on top but after Whittingham replaced Comminges in the 55th minute it sparked City into life.

The former Aston Villa midfielder had two strikes on goal but could keep neither down and the opportunities were lost.

Ian Evatt stuck out a leg to stop a goa-bound shot from McCormack as City pressed for that important goal.

Another fleeting chance fell to Bothroyd in the 70th minute, but once again his shot flew high over the bar.

Blackpool forced a couple of corners but Darren Purse was superb in defence heading clear twice when Heaton was under pressure.

The breakthrough came in the 83rd minute when the impressive Bothroyd crossed and Whittingham headed into the corner.

Three minutes later McCormack crashed a 25-yard free-kick home for his tenth league goal of the season to give City victory.

External Reports
Cardiff City Official Website
Blackpool Gazette
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